This is how it happens. You have a dinner party. It goes well. It goes so well that you and your guests plow through all of your bottles of decent wine. When you come home from work the following Monday, your eyes bloodshot from too many hours in front of a computer screen and your nerves frayed, you're desperate for a drink but the pickings are slim.
You pass over the abandoned Midori in the back of your pantry. (How the hell did that get there anyway?) There's some tequila that you haven't been able to go near since that last trip to Puerta Vallarta. You've got a six-pack of beer that looks good but you took it out of the fridge to make room for the roast you cooked up for the dinner guests, and you can't wait the hour it will take for the beer to get cold. You spot on your kitchen counter the one bottle of wine you purposely didn't serve. It was a host gift from your cheap friend (there's always one in every crowd), and it is entirely unidentifiable except for the inscription claiming it to be "Quality Red Table Wine."
You uncork the bottle, trying not to smell it. Smelling it will only make drinking it more difficult. You dump a few mouthfuls into a glass and take the plunge. You swallow once. You cannot take another sip. It's as bad as you expected.
What's a stressed out but enterprising young professional to do? Grab soda. Lots of it. Mix one part "Quality Red Table Wine" with one part cola and serve in a tall glass over ice. Call it a Calimocho because only in Spanish does your bastard of an emergency drink sound hip and intentional. Pour the rest of the "Quality Red Table Wine" into a pitcher with the rest of the cola, and take it outside to share with your neighbors on the front stoop. (If you don't have a stoop, because stoops never made it this far west, gather around on the sidewalk and pray that the police don't drive by.) Call this sharing part a botellon because again, everything sounds classier if it's foreign. Get your neighbors to bring out their own collection of undrinkable reds re-gifted by their own cheap friends. Send someone's kid to the corner store for more cola. Drink, share, repeat.
Lisa P. Sutton earned an MFA in writing from University of California, Irvine and a JD from Boston University School of Law. She lives and drinks in Los Angeles.